Meet the investor: Priya Banerjee
August 14, 2020
Priya Banerjee is a Principal in B Capital’s Singapore office.
Prior to B Capital, Priya was an investment professional with Sequoia Capital India. At Sequoia, Priya helped to identify and evaluate multiple high growth start-ups, largely in the consumer and healthcare space. Priya began her career as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, working on digital transformation and innovation strategies of healthcare and financial services companies. During her MBA at Wharton, Priya was also an Investment Partner at First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund, where she and her team invested in 25+ promising companies built by student founders across the US.
Priya received her MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed her undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
What investing areas do you focus on?
I focus on high growth technology investments within enterprise technology, fintech, B2B and transportation verticals in India and Southeast Asia. I am particularly excited about startups that are building products to help legacy industries transition from pen and paper workflows to more modern, digital-first solutions.
What attracted you to venture investing?
I spent a year in Stockholm during my undergraduate days, working at an early stage technology company and quickly realized that I love working with founders and partnering with them as they scale their business. I was attracted to venture investing because it gave me the opportunity to learn from exceptional entrepreneurs and investors every day. It is an incredible privilege to partner with teams solving hard problems, and providing customers with something new and delightful, that was previously impossible. Venture investing also allows me to be equal parts creative and analytical. The combination of imagining a future that does not exist yet, and analysing existing data to determine what’s possible, makes VC a very interesting career.
What’s something that you always look for in a pitch?
In a pitch, I like to evaluate questions such as, ‘Is the company operating in a large and growing market?’, ‘Is there an interesting insight on why customers need this solution?’, ‘Can the founders hire A+ talent?’, ‘Is the product an order of magnitude better than status quo?’ and ‘Has the team figured out an effective go-to-market approach that enables them to scale fast?’.
In addition, I look out for focus and customer pull. When you are solving a complex problem, it is tempting to try to do ten different things at the same time. I like companies that go narrow at first and solve a specific problem perfectly before expanding their offering to newer products, customer segments or geographies. I also spend a lot of time understanding what customers think of the product. Having a solution that generates significant organic pull from customers is great ammunition for growing sustainably.
What do you look for in a founder or an executive team?
I like to work with founding teams who have developed unique insights about what is right or wrong in an industry, are passionate about solving difficult problems, and have a clear vision of how to tackle them. The best founders are often obsessively curious and have the right balance of determination and empathy. I recognize that building an enduring business is hard yet extremely rewarding, and I believe it is important for both founders and investors to be collaborative, vulnerable, open-minded, and resilient in their pursuits. Regardless of whether we end up partnering with them, we always learn a lot from our interactions with founders, and hugely respect their ideas, grit, and hard work.
What are the attributes of a company or technology that is borderless and can grow beyond its founding region?
Business practices and culture may vary by region, but what makes companies succeed and thrive transcends borders. Setting up the right team, creating a culture of customer-centricity and building strong, defensible business models are truly border-less and critical for building lasting impact. Our vantage point at B Capital as a global firm makes me strongly believe that technology companies of the future will have the ability to win, regardless of geography.
If you were not in this career, what would you be doing?
If I were not in this career, I would have liked to be a founder myself or work at an early stage company. I love problem-solving and being in the trenches with team members passionate about tackling difficult issues and creating impactful solutions. I am energized by the process of ideation to execution, which is why I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the early team at B Capital.
What is something many people may not know about you?
I am an avid art enthusiast. I enjoy visiting art museums and learning about the lives and motivations of artists around the world. I believe artists and entrepreneurs are quite similar as they are both in the business of turning ideas into reality and challenging the status quo. Growing up, I spent a lot of time learning how to paint, and it has been fun going back to my canvas and paintbrushes in the last few months.
Connect with Priya on LinkedIn today!